Germany has one of the most interesting and diverse histories of any country of Europe, and a landscape to match. Whether you’re looking for fairytale medieval villages or an ultra-modern metropolis, lush, rolling hills and mountains or vineyards and wineries, Germany can provide it.
Overview, traditions & history
Germany is one of Europe’s most developed and powerful nations, with a strong economy and national identity. The country also, however, has a multicultural society which was famously highlighted this summer by the world-cup-winning football squad.
Historically, Germany was an imperial, colonial power which spread across the world. It has also been the home of many great artists, philosophers and writers, giving the country a rich artistic heritage.
Germany’s location in the heart of Europe means it enjoys warm summers but also bitterly cold winters, particularly in the east of the country.
The summer is the perfect time to visit the vineyards in the south of the country, while the cities are gorgeous in the winter.
Why visit Germany?
Germany is home to one of the most vibrant and fascinating cities in the entire world. Berlin, the country’s capital, is a huge city with huge character. Berlin’s architecture, museums and history make it a classic western-European city, but you barely need to scratch the surface before the ultra-cool art bars, nightclubs and hipster joints begin to emerge.
Learn the history of the Berlin Wall at Checkpoint Charlie, or visit the heart-wrenching Holocaust Memorial and Ort Der to learn the true extent of the persecution of Jews in Europe in the build-up to the Second World War. Nearby you also have the site of Hitler’s Bunker and the Brandenburg gate, giving glimpses into completely contradictory elements of Germany’s chequered past.
Hamburg is Germany’s second city, with its beautiful architecture and maritime charm, it is a truly multicultural city which still remains classically German.
Germany’s countryside boasts fairytale castles and palaces, rolling valleys and verdant vineyards. Rent a bicycle and cycle the Castle Trail and see some of the most stunning stately homes on the continent, or take a vineyard tour and sample some delicious German wines, one of the country’s best-kept secrets.
Take your car to Germany and you’ll discover some of the most scenic driving routes in Europe. Take the Romantic Road through Bavaria (perhaps stopping off for Oktoberfest on the way!) and you’ll pass medieval towns, villages and monasteries hidden in the foothills of the German Alps.
You can also follow the Fairy Tale Road through the towns and landscapes that inspired the Brothers Grimm to write the most famous – and infamous – stories of our childhoods.
The most famous driving route in Germany is the Black Forest Road, which brings tourists in their droves every year. Rise early and catch the sunrise as you take in the dramatic scenery of this elevated route. Stop off in a mountain hotel once you’ve had your fill of driving and rest up for the next day. You can also pay a visit to Hohenzollern Castle, an 11th century palace that is still under private ownership, over half a million people visit this magnificent castle every year, and with good reason, it is one of the most beautiful buildings you are ever likely to see.
Each Christmas, the cities of Germany play host to magnificent Christmas markets. Wander the magical festive villages, with stalls selling everything from arts and crafts to local delicacies, confectionery and international goods. What's more, you can keep yourself feeling warm and festive at these Christmas markets with a mug of gluhwein and some traditional German food.
While we don't offer a direct ferry from the UK to Germany, it's easily accessible via our
Newcastle-Amsterdam route. It's less than 2 hours away from the ferry port in IJmuiden (near
Want a more in-depth look at some of Germany’s top cities? Visit our individual city travel guide pages for more information.
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